Encyclopedia Masonica

The meetings of the Craft during the operative period in the Middle Ages, were called Assemblies, which appear to have been tantamount to the modem Lodges, and they are constantly spoken of in the Old Constitutions. The word Assembly was also often used in these documents to indicate a larger meeting of the whole Craft, which was equivalent to the modem Grand Lodge, and which was held annually. The York Manuscript No. l, about the year 1600, says ''that Edwin procured of ye King his father a charter and commission to hold every year an assembly wherever they would within ye realm of England,'' and this statement, whether true or false, is repeated in all the old records. Preston says, speaking of that medieval period, that''a sufficient number of Masons met together within a certain district, with the consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, were empowered at this time to make Masons, etc. To this assembly, every Freemason was bound, when summoned, to appear.

Thus, in the Harleian Manuscript, about 1660, it is ordained that "every Master and Fellow come to the Assembly, if it be within five miles about him, if he have any warning." The term General Assembly, to indicate the annual meeting, is said to have been first used at the meeting, held on December 27, 1663, as quoted by Preston. In the Old Constitutions printed in 1722 by Roberts, and which claims to be taken from a manuscript of the eighteenth century, the term used is Yearly Assembly. Anderson speaks of an Old Constitution which used the word General; but his quotations are not always verbally accurate.

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The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.

For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.

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